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Instrumenting a Site for High Rankings

Instrumenting a web page for high ranking in search engines consists of two activities—a hard one and an easy one. The easy activity is setting a <META> tag that describes the keywords for your site. The hard activity consists of organizing the information in your site's pages so that the keywords appear frequently. You want the keywords to appear frequently in your pages because, in general, keyword density—how often a keyword appears in your site's pages—affects how highly your page is listed in a search engine.

Setting Keywords

Similar to setting the description of your web site, there's a version of the <META> tag for keywords (<META NAME="keywords">) and you set the CONTENT parameter for this tag to your site's keywords. In Dating Expert, this looks like Listing 3.

Listing 3 - The Keywords for the Dating Expert Site

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="love tests,relationship tests,dating,
dating advice,dating tips,love,love advice,love tips,matchmaking,
date tips"></META>

Basically, you list all the keywords related to your site. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But if it was that simple, wouldn't all dating sites just copy one another and use the same keywords? And if they did, how would the search engines rank them?

It turns out that search engines don't just take your word for the keywords. If you list a term as a keyword, it matters how many times that term appears throughout your site. For example, if your site is about dating, you list dating as a keyword, and the word dating appears many times on each page of your web site, your site is likely to be ranked higher than a site that lists dating as a keyword, and yet that term doesn't appear on any of the site's pages.

One way you can affect keyword density is by repeating keywords in your keyword <META> tag. For example, if your site is about dating, you might want to mention dating several times in your keyword <META> tag.

CAUTION

Be careful. Some search engines penalize a site if they detect a keyword being repeated too many times in the keyword list, and may rank the site low—or not at all. A good general rule is to repeat a keyword only three times, and never put the same keyword side by side.

Organizing Information for a Higher Ranking

As mentioned earlier, keyword density is very important in your web pages. For at least the home page of your site, try to make your most important keywords appear often. Some web site designers believe that the very first paragraph is what the search engines use to determine keyword density—not the entire page. There are many little tricks you can do to increase keyword density. For example, if an important keyword appears in the address of your site, you can separate your site's address with a space when it's shown in your pages, which gives you an extra count for that keyword. For example, the URL for Dating Expert is http://www.datingexpert.com, but I've listed it as Dating Expert.com in each instance on the web page (see Figure 3).

Figure 3 The home page of Dating Expert. Note the high density of the keyword dating.

CAUTION

Search engines are getting very clever about detecting "cheaters." Putting keywords in white text on a white background (so the user sees nothing, but the search engine counts the keyword) used to work, but most search engines can now detect this and will actually penalize your site if you "cheat," where once again penalizing means you are ranked low or not at all. The same warning applies for putting keywords adjacent to one another—don't do it, or you may be penalized.

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